At the beginning of this first project, the partnership included 12 Protected Areas from 8 Danube countries. Additional partners showed interest and were invited to cooperate, which is why by the end of 2011, the network already comprised 15.
The project was implemented between April 2009 and February 2012 and invested about € 2.7 mio in nature protection. The focus was on five different implementation areas: River Morphology and Revitalisation, Floodplain Management and Habitat Network, Conservation of Danube Flagship Species, Monitoring and Natura2000 and Danube Nature Tourism.
A review to all activities is given in the DANUBEPARKS Project Report 2009-2012.
To ensure smooth implementation, to build up a long-lasting partnership and to provide for an in-depth experience exchange, task forces met regularly for workshops, meetings and study visits. The steering committee meetings brought Protected Area Directors together once a year to discuss the implementation of the project and to take any high-level decisions.
Awareness-raising activities were implemented to demonstrate the importance of transnational cooperation in nature protection to the public and inspire them for support. This included the exchange of exhibitions and organisation of the international art competition “A Chance for the Blue Danube”. The major annual focal points were the International Danube Festival in Mohács 2010 and Orth/Donau 2011, integrating culture, tradition, nature and information about all Protected Areas into the programme.
Activities and Achievements
River Morphology and Revitalisation: From 2009 to 2012, the main focus was on the elaboration of two publications; The DANUBEPARKS Strategy on Conservation and Navigation, including ways to deal with river engineering projects and their impacts on nature in the Protected Areas, and the Danube River’s Morphology and Revitalisation, assembling experiences from the past.Additionally, several demonstrative and innovative revitalisation projects were implemented (e.g. opening of river branches, adaptation of groyns), and study visits as well as an international workshop were organised.
Floodplain Management and Habitat Network: During this project cross-border management plans for the AT-SK, HU-HR and HU-RS areas were developed as a basis for more coherent nature management. The “Perspectives for Danube Floodplain Forests” laid down the general goals of the Protected Areas regarding future implementation measures in forestry. Last but not least, pilot projects (e.g. planting of native trees, mowing and grazing) and study visits, also with external stakeholders, were implemented.
Protection of Danube Flagship Species: White-tailed Eagle and Danube Sturgeon both demonstrate the necessity of an interlinked and uninterrupted habitat network along the Danube. For Sturgeons, cooperation was started with research institutions and communication tools were established. The Action Plan for White-tailed Eagle at the Danube River – developed together with experts – was adopted and published by the Council of Europe / Bern Convention. A White-tailed Eagle Database was established online to collect international monitoring data coherently.
Monitoring and Natura2000: Handbooks and studies were published to enhance management and monitoring of important species, such as Beaver or European Mink, or general Natura2000 areas. An online database for fish monitoring data has been established. The results of the Danube-wide monitoring of Little-ringed Plover and Sandmartin (indicator species for dynamic river sections) demonstrate the need for further revitalisation and protection.
Danube Nature Tourism: The Joint Ranger Training in 2010 provided the basis for many Protected Areas to guide foreign visitors and communicate to visitors the necessity of transnational cooperation. A Position and Action Plan for tourism and environmental education now serves as the basis for future actions. Several Protected Areas also developed pilot offers (boat and bike tours, nature trails). Communication tools such as the joint tourism brochure and online tourism platform help in marketing the newly established offers.
The project partners included: Danube Delta Biosphere Reserve Authority, Rusenski Lom Nature Park, Persina Nature Park, Duna-Dráva National Park, Duna-Ipoly National Park, State Nature Conservancy of the Slovak Republic, BROZ, and Donau-Auen National Park (Lead Partner).
The observer partners representing Protected Areas, thus participating actively in the implementation of activities, were: Ðjerdap National Park, Vojvodinašume, Institute for Nature Conservation of Vojvodina Province, Kopački rit Nature Park, Lonjsko Polje Nature Park, City of Ingolstadt and Landkreis Neuburg-Schrobenhausen.
Other observer partners included: ICPDR; Ministry of Environment and Water of Hungary; Provincial Secretariat for Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development of Vojvodina; Executive Forest Agency of Bulgaria; Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning of Serbia; via donau, Ministry of Environment and Water of Bulgaria; Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development of Romania; Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management of Austria and Ministry of Culture of Croatia.